Derek DeYoung Art

Artist Derek DeYoung’s work has veered off from the traditional fish illustration style. His paintings are contemporary, placing more importance on using a unique style and palette rather than painting a fish to look photo realistic.

“I used to think that Derek was an extremely talented artist. Then we went fishing. Now I’m not sure whether he’s an angler with a brush or an artist with a fly rod. Either way, there are not many people in the world able to combine the two geniuses as well as he does. Even my non-fishing friends (there are a few) are captivated by his work….” Read Jim’s story & more

Q: What was your goal once you realized that your art really appealed to the fly fishing audience?
A: “When I first got into the fly fishing world, my goal was to bring something new to the table. I have no illusions that I am the best painter out there, but I think I am one of the more creative artists. I want to bring you something fresh and new everytime. That was a challenge in the beginning of my career, because fresh and new is not always welcome. I had people tell me to take a hike and that I will never be embraced by the fly fishing world.  This caused me to work harder. Now, bright and fresh is the norm in the fly fishing industry. I am proud to have been part of that movement.”

Q: How is your artwork evolving from where you started out?
A: “With my fish art, I try to find a whole new angle to it. Any artist that isn’t looking at new challenges and how to broaden their skill set isn’t growing. The goal here for me is to be an old man who has experienced many interesting things in life through his passion for painting. These new challenges don’t always translate into what I might sell more of per say.   But to develop my own style in painting fish and riverscapes is important.  It is so inspiring to me….chasing trout in some of the northern Rockies most beautiful rivers and lakes, I often set the rod down, and consider the scene in front of me, not in how to best fish it, but how to best paint it.”


Q: What makes you want to paint fish?
A:”I am always seeking out the beauty in life and in the world, searching for that magical experience or vision that will inspire me to paint at a higher level. The act of pursuing trout and steelhead with a fly rod contains so many of these magical moments. For me the truly inspirational vision, both as an artist and as an angler, comes once I’ve landed a particularly beautiful fish. I hold it up, tilting the fish back and forth in the sunlight, allowing all the subtle colors and patterns to come alive. I find fish so interesting and they are truly a challenge to capture on canvas. When I paint a fish, I try to capture all the intricacies they possess, their scales, patterns, dimension and texture.”

Q: Which came first, the fishing or the art?
A:The two passions grew at the same time. When I was a little kid both fishing and art become more interesting as my skills developed. I love fishing and art more today then I ever have.

Q: Do you fly fish and if so, what is your favorite species to catch?
A: I do fish.. I LOVE fishing. I think my favorite way to spend a day fishing would be stalking a small stream and side channels, throwing dries for big browns. There’s nothing like floating a fly along an undercut bank, the anticipation of an eat.. then when I see the color of the trout materialize under my fly.. my stomach leaps into my throat.. but I’ve got to wait.. wait.. wait.. until finally the fly is gone, the trout has taken it, and then the line goes tight.. and for me all in the world is right.

Q: Your ideal fly-fishing destination?
A: I’ve grown up in Michigan fishing for trout, salmon and Warmwater species. So the lure to fish saltwater to me at this point my life is pretty strong.The things that you witness out on the ocean or on the flats, it’s just mind-boggling and I find these experiences to be extremely inspiring in my artwork.

Q: Where would you locate your dream studio and whom would you invite around for a drink?
A: Currently my studio is set up in Livingston, Montana which is one of my favorite places on the planet. We also go down to the Florida Keys quite a bit and that’s where we get to enjoy some of the saltwater fishing that I love so much. Both places are so spectacular for their scenery and natural beauty and in fishing opportunities. Someday I would love to switch and spend my summers in Alaska although I’m not sure how much painting would get done, or that my wife would support that.

Q: Tell us about your greatest your inspiration?
A: I’m inspired by other artists all the time. My greatest inspiration comes from seeing art that is created by people who have really honed in on their craft and are doing something so unique and beautiful that it’s completely evident that art is their life’s passion..in the strokes of their paintings and in the emotion that you take from their art just by standing in front of it. I love Van Gogh.. his colors and brush work are unreal.

Q: In what kind of products can we see your great work these days?
A: The Simms-DeYoung Artist Series line includes everything from T-shirts and other apparel items to fly boxes, water bottles and cigar humidors. The DeYoung Series Abel Reels are an artistic fly-fishing addition that makes all of these special reels instant collectables. Each reel is hand painted with anodized metal based on my paintings and some of my paintings are specifically designed for the Abel Reels. Seven of my paintings from Montana, Alaska and the Florida Keys create the By DeYoung Series Buff UV Protective Headwear Line. A year or so ago, when the folks at Burton Snowboards asked me to submit some fish art for their 2014 “Fish Board”, I felt the “Trout Confetti” series would be the perfect fit. It related to fly fishing only in a sense of celebrating something that fly anglers covet so dearly: trout. But other than that, it was a study of color, pattern and form.

Q: What advice would you give to the starting artists that want to get into the fly-fishing world?
A: Simply this: if you are wholly passionate about your art, and are true to your own vision, people will love you for that, because it is a rare thing. Don’t worry about your “success” as an artist, concentrate instead on putting out the best art that you possibly can; art that on your dying day you can look back on and have no regrets, and feel proud and privileged to have spent your life creating it.

Watch more videos of Artist Derek DeYoung painting